Spielberg endorses Clinton for president

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Oscar-winning director Steven Spielberg, an influential member of Hollywood elite, on Wednesday endorsed New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008.

"I've taken the time to familiarize myself with the impressive field of Democratic candidates and am convinced that Hillary Clinton is the most qualified candidate to lead us from her first day in the White House," Spielberg said in a statement.

Spielberg, a founding partner of DreamWorks Studio and the director of such films as "Jurassic Park," "Schindler's List" and "Saving Private Ryan," had waited several months to decide which candidate to endorse as Democratic hopefuls jousted for Hollywood's financial backing.

His decision reflects Clinton's growing support among show business heavyweights following a period in which many donors hedged their bets by giving money to several candidates, including Clinton, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards.

"My sense is that there continues to be three very strong talented Democratic front-runners, and there's a long way to go," said Andy Spahn, Spielberg's political advisor.

He said the current presidential election run-up was unique in that many of the wealthier, high-profile makers and shakers in Hollywood have been unwilling to back any one candidate,

Billionaire mogul David Geffen, a DreamWorks co-founder with Spielberg, proved an early exception when he came out strongly in support of Obama with a sharply worded attack on Clinton in a New York Times column in February, one day after hosting an Obama fund-raiser that raised more than $1 million.

The entertainment industry generated $33.1 million for federal candidates and parties in the 2004 election cycle, including $22.9 million for Democrats and $10.1 million for Republicans, according to the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, D.C.

Spahn said the fund-raising momentum has intensified as the candidates approach the June 30 close to the second-quarter financial reporting period.

"All the campaigns are aggressively raising money so they can file an impressive report following the close of the cycle," he said.

About two weeks ago, Clinton raised $1.1 million in a single day from two Los Angeles-area events, one of them a star-studded reception at News Corp. President Peter Chernin's house co-hosted by Spielberg and television mogul Haim Saban.

Many Hollywood donors are still giving money to all three Democratic front-runners, though some earlier would-be Obama backers seem to be leaning more toward Clinton amid concerns that Obama lacks experience needed for the White House, political analysts say.

All three front-runners are visiting Tinseltown this month to raise money before the next filing deadline to disclose contributions. Obama was in town on Monday and Tuesday for a few fund-raising events, while Edwards and Clinton are both scheduled to return later this month.
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